All possible ways to Install plugins for WordPress have been explained. These include WordPress Repository, Direct Upload, Manual way by Hosting File Manager or FTP, and the Remote way of controlling plugins on your site. It is recommended to learn all the procedures. If one goes wrong, you can utilize others.
This is the basic method every beginner and expert with WordPress does. No explanation is needed. All the repository plugins that we use on all our sites are installed through the WordPress dashboard only. Externally downloaded files are uploaded manually. Why should you download and upload plugins when you can install them with a single click? If the plugins you want to install are in the repo, it works. If they aren’t in the repo, follow the below procedure.
If you have any plugin/ theme which you downloaded from an external site, you can just drag and drop the plugin to WordPress by clicking on the upload button. No rocket science. In this method, you can add new plugins. You may not be able to update plugins already installed. Some plugins don’t support the upload method for updating. In such cases, you need to follow the manual method. If you have purchased any plugins from 3rd party websites, you have to follow this procedure.
Tip: Some Plugin ZIP files you receive are not designed to be directly uploadable. Before uploading ZIP, open the ZIP in your computer, make sure there are no more ZIPs inside, and once extracted, plugin contents should be directly accessible. If the plugin contents are in another folder inside the folder that you uploaded, WordPress cannot identify it as a plugin file.
The manual method requires you to have access to your hosting account. i.e. CPanel/ other Hosting Panel. You need to access your website file manager, get into the folder ‘plugins’ inside the ‘wp-content’ folder. You need to upload the file to this folder. Some things need to be noted while uploading to the file manager which has been mentioned in the article, How to Manually Install WordPress Plugins?
You will follow this procedure if the Plugin/ Theme you purchased from Envato Market doesn’t support auto-updates. You will have to manually update them. Some plugins support the ‘WordPress upload way’ to update plugins. Some others don’t.
You can also upload plugins through FTP. Generally, people use FileZilla, a free FTP client. However, you cannot extract files directly in FileZilla (It requires some extensions). So, I recommend the ‘hosting file manager’ itself. You can ONLY upload an already extracted file in FileZilla, which requires more time than uploading ZIP Files.
If you are using any VPS Server like Cloudways, FileZilla is the only option to manage files for the site.
Remote access means you are installing plugins without login into WordPress. There are two ways you can achieve this. Either through the control panel or ManageWP Worker Plugin. If you use the control panel of hosting, in their panel you can install and remove plugins within their website dashboard. Only limited hostings have this facility.
In the other way of remotely installing plugins, you can utilize the ManageWP Worker plugin. You can add or remove plugins and themes, activate and de-activate them from their dashboard which can be accessed without any need to login to WordPress. More information about this plugin is in a separate dedicated article.
So this is pretty much it. These were all the ways you install WordPress plugins. If you learned something new let us know. And if we missed something, let us know that too in the comments.